The existence of osmotic pressure inside cartilage gives the tissue a propensity to swell. This swelling pressure is balanced by the tensile stresses generated within the solid matrix at free-swelling [1, 2]. Recent studies have shown that cartilage exhibits significant strain-softening when compressed relative to its free-swelling state [3–5]. Such strain-softening behavior has been physically interpreted within the context of osmotic swelling pressure and tension-compression nonlinearity [4, 9]. This has provided the rationale for extracting both the tensile and compressive Young’s moduli from uniaxial compression tests on the same specimen [4, 5]. The goal of the current study is to optically determine another important elastic property, i.e. the equilibrium Poisson’s ratio of young bovine articular cartilage when uniaxially compressed along its three characteristic directions: parallel and perpendicular to the split-line direction (1- and 2-direction, respectively), and in a direction normal to the articular surface (3-direction). Furthermore, the external bath concentration effects on the Poisson’s ratios will be explored at various strain levels.

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